Bandra West is often referred to as the “Queen of the Suburbs” in Mumbai. The allure of international influences and eclectic outlook has attracted celebrities, models, musicians, hipsters, and ex-pats to this multi-faceted neighborhood. In turn, a steady stream of stylish new restaurants, bars, and boutiques have opened up to cater to their cosmopolitan lifestyle. These top things to do in Bandra West cover both the history and current trends of the neighborhood.
The 8 Top Things to Do in Bandra West, Mumbai
- Trace Bandra’s Heritage
One of the defining features of Bandra West is its extensive Portuguese heritage. Bandra was settled by the Portuguese in 1534 when it was a simple fishing village, and it remained part of their territory even after the Bombay Islands were transferred to the British in 1661. During their occupation of the region, the Portuguese built many churches and converted. Thousands of locals profess Catholicism. Amidst increasing urbanization, some old villages and stately Portuguese ancestral houses still remain. These include the Chimbai fishing village and the artistic 400-year-old Ranwar village. Take an informative guided walking tour through the neighborhood, such as this one offered by RaconTour Walks.
- Admire the Street Art
The streets around Ranwar village have recently become famous for their quirky street art created by artists from all over the world. Much of it can be found on Varoda Road, Chapel Road, and St. Veronica Road and as far as Mount Carmel Church in Bandra West. The most prominent murals on Chapel Road are the work of a Bollywood art project. There are also huge murals of Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna at the corner of Bandstand and Perera Road. Wandertrails organizes guided 2-hour walking tours of the street art.
- Visit Bandra Fort and Bandstand
At the tip of Bandra west are the remains of a 17th-century fort that was built by the Portuguese as a watchtower. It was strategically located overlooking Mahim Bay but now offers an excellent vantage point overlooking the historic Bandra-Worli Sea Link Bridge. Not far away, behind a grand gate opposite the luxurious Taj Lands End Hotel, is the home of the “Badshah of Bollywood” Shah Rukh Khan. Called Mannat (meaning wish or prayer), it is a huge palatial six-storey mansion.
- Stroll Along with Bandstand and Carter Road Promenades
Bandra borders the West Arabian Sea and you can join the long stretches of seaside past celebrity residences for an evening walk with the locals. The neighborhood has two promenades, one extending from the bandstand and the other along Carter Road to the north. Recent urban development projects have added improved facilities such as an amphitheater, park, and children’s playground.
- Go Shopping
Bargain hunters certainly won’t be disappointed with Bandra West. There are stalls on Linking Road selling cheap shoes, bags, clothes, and accessories. Make sure you worked hard to get a good price! There are also boutiques in the neighborhood that are worth browsing. Visit Unique for gorgeous block-print textiles, Culture Shop for groovy products by Indian graphic designers, OMO for funky Indian attire, and shop for boho-chic fashion and home decor.
- Explore the Food Scene
Bandra West is a favorite of foodies! Over the past decade, the neighborhood has developed into one of the most talked-about dining spots in Mumbai. Don’t expect too much traditional Indian fare though. In line with Bandra’s trend, most of the restaurants and cafes focus on contemporary cuisine. A new exception is Ferry Wharf, which serves Mangalorean seafood just like you’d find it in South India. Hang out with creative types at The Bagel Shop, eat organic at Birdsong, try Indian cuisine at Pali Bhawan, feast on seafood with an Asian spin at Bastian, and dine European at the cool Pali Village Cafe. Don’t miss to sample the gourmet tea at the Taj Mahal Tea House.
- Experience the Nightlife
Bandra West has the highest density of party places in Mumbai, though you’ll need to start early as there is a 1:30 pm nightlife curfew. Janta Bar is the local no-frills watering hole (Janata means “common man” in Hindi). For a casual pub atmosphere, visit Toto’s Garage. The iconic Hawaiian shack is popular with the younger crowd, so much so that even after the owners have retired, it has been kept open due to public demand.
Hip Bonobo often has live music throughout the week and electronica gigs with DJs on the weekends. If you like retro music, Door No. 1 plays like nothing else. Deli is the only place in Bandra that is open after 1:30 pm on weekends depending on the crowd. Bandra Base hosts live music performances in an intimate setting. For a classy club atmosphere, drop in and drop by. Each month, The Den hosts one of the city’s most happening “micro” parties, Mixtape!, with a different guest DJ each week. The stylish Olive Bar & Kitchen is the place for celebrity spotting.
- Get a Reflexology Treatment
The Meta Reflexology Spa in Pali Village, Bandra West, offers remarkably affordable reflexology massages by visually impaired practitioners, many of whom are completely blind. They have all gone through a six-month reflexology training program, so they are appropriately qualified.
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